The “Why Me?” of Periodontal Disease

August 7, 2013

heavy calculus causing gum disease

As we have stated before, we work with the best team of dental specialists in North County. We have enlisted the help of Dr. Scott Paul D.D.S, a periodontist we have worked with for over twenty years, to address the question of: Why do I have periodontal disease? A caring professional whose expertise and skills have helped many of our patients, Dr. Paul explains why periodontal disease is partly just the luck of our genetic makeup, and at the same time not completely out of our control.

Why me?

We can all understand why this person might have gum disease but we often we get the following question: “My husband doesn’t floss or get his teeth cleaned regularly. Yet, he has no gum disease. Why me? I brush and floss and do everything I can.” The above photo would be an example of just such a husband.

Gum disease is a very complex disease. Multiple different species of bacteria can cause periodontal disease and, yes, they can be transmitted from one person to another. Living together can result in transference of these organisms between partners. So, why does one partner get gum disease and the other doesn’t? Though bacteria are the main etiology of gum disease, there are co-factors which affect the disease process. One of the strongest co-factors is the persons immune response. Though gum disease is not genetic, the immune response is. Some people’s immune systems simply do not fight the gum disease bacteria as well as others. This is why one partner can exhibit gum disease while the other doesn’t, though they both harbour the same exact bacteria.

The answer to “why me” is your immune response. To a limited degree, you can improve your immune response by taking care of yourself: Eating well, exercise and reducing bad habits. However, sometimes your body simply doesn’t have the ability to fight certain bacteria. The good news is with excellent oral hygiene that removes the plaque/bacteria off the root surfaces, there is no need for immune response and, thus, no gum disease. This is accomplished with meticulous home care and a professional cleaning program. Our job is to give you the tools and techniques necessary for you to accomplish oral health.